the international language association

Robert O’Dowd

Virtual Exchange and Internationalising the Classroom

Dr. Robert O'Dowd comes from Ireland. He is associate professor in English as a Foreign Language and Applied Linguistics at the University of León, Spain. He has taught at universities in Ireland, Germany and Spain and has published widely on the application of Virtual Exchange in university education. His most recent publication is the co-edited volume Online Intercultural Exchange Policy, Pedagogy, Practice for Routledge. He has participated in many international projects and recently coordinated INTENT - a project financed by the European Commission aimed at promoting online intercultural exchange in European Higher Education ( He is currently coordinating the Erasmus+ Key Action 3 project Evaluating and Upscaling Telecollaborative Teacher Education (EVALUATE).


Telecollaboration, or ‘Virtual Exchange’ refers to the application of online communication tools to bring together classes of learners in geographically distant locations with the aim of developing their foreign language skills, digital competence and intercultural competence through online collaborative tasks and project work. Many recent studies have explored the potential of this activity for supporting collaborative language learning and developing intercultural competence in learners (Dooly & O’Dowd, 2012, Guth & Helm, 2010; O’Dowd, 2011, 2013).

This session will begin with a brief presentation of the different models and approaches to Virtual Exchange which are currently being used in secondary and higher education contexts and will review what the activity has contributed to internationalising university education to date. It then goes on to focus on the challenges for educators and outlines the skills, attitudes and knowledge which are required to establish and carry out successfully an online intercultural exchange between university classes. The presentation will also look briefly at the platform which supports university lecturers interested in establishing and running telecollaborative exchanges. In the practical workshop, participants will have opportunities to explore how they could include Virtual Exchange in their particular teaching contexts and where they can find partner classes and tasks for their own exchange initiatives.

His publications are available here:
and you can follow him on twitter: @robodowd


The ICC very much looks forward to receiving your feedback.

Please feel free to contact us via our feedback form

>> go to the feedback form

Member Organisations


ICC - the international language association

Postfach 10 12 28
D-44712 Bochum